Books

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The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

Mahlia and Mouse are refugees in a dark, dystopic future America. The relative calm of their war-torn lives is shattered when they discover a wounded bioengineered war beast named Tool hunted by a squad of young war boys led by a psychopathic lieutenant. Mouse is captured by the squad and Mahlia faces an impossible decision: risk her life to save a friend or flee to freedom. A fast-moving adventure tale of love, loyalty and changes of heart.

Ah-choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman

A delightful, witty investigation into the mysterious world of an ailment that touches every life on the planet on average four times per year. And the multi-billion dollar industry that repeatedly (and wrongly) claims to “cure” it. A gifted science reporter, Ackerman takes us deep into the places where the viruses begin their nefarious onslaught (the nose) and delights in relating the studies that debunk the curative effects of chicken soup, zinc, and various soaps and elixirs. But she also tells us what works. And how to avoid a cold (hint: children are germ factories).

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Former planet-hopping soldiers John Perry and his wife Jane Sagan have retired to administrative positions on a peaceful colonial planet when they entertain a visit from a former commander who makes a proposal: they are the perfect candidates to lead a promising colony of citizens from ten worlds in the Colonial Union. But after they accept things deteriorate dramatically as they discover that they are pawns in a galactic chess game.

What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel by Dave Eggers

When 7-year-old Valentino Achak Deng, a Dinka living in southern Sudan, is forced to leave his village, his harrowing journey takes him through three countries, terrifying encounters with Arab militias, government bombers, wild animals and some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most challenging terrain. One of the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino stands as an extraordinary example of a story that is equal parts bleak, lyrical, humorous and tragic.

Travels With Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel M. Klein

With a suitcase full of philosophy books Klein returns to the Greek island of Hydra to discover the secrets of aging graciously and gracefully. While the ancient philosopher Epicurus is Klein’s most important guide, the author seeks wisdom in a variety of texts. Looking back over a life in the fast lane he contemplates the uncommonly content lives of the old men of Hydra. Men with deep roots in the island’s culture and deeper friendships. A lovely, thin volume filled with pithy and gently provocative observations on a topic of interest to us all.

Home by Toni Morrison

Frank Money has recently returned from the Korean War, less two friends and with many emotional scars. He has no plans to return to his hometown of Lotus, Georgia, until he receives a letter that his beloved sister Cee is sick.

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Who knew that going to church could be deadly? North Carolina in the mid-1980s feels very far away from the world of 21st century Massachusetts in this debut Southern Gothic novel about 9-year-old Jess and his mute older brother, Stump. When the boys spy through a window and see something they shouldn’t, the consequences are fatal. We hear the story from three disparate but convincing characters: Jess, the sheriff, and the elderly local midwife who has spent a lifetime observing and helping the townspeople.

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

It’s 1913 Vienna and Lysander Reif, a young English actor, is in town seeking psychotherapy for a very private sort of ailment. He ends up enmeshed in a passionate affair with an enigmatic woman he meets at his therapist’s office. When his lover’s live-in boyfriend finds out and becomes enraged, she accuses Lysander of rape and the story gallops away from there. Upon his return to London on the cusp of war, Lysander finds it difficult to return to normal life, breaks up with his English fiancé, joins up and gets pulled into the dangerous world of wartime spying.

More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, Fever Pitch) writes a monthly column for the British magazine Believer where he discusses the books he’s read in the past month. Compiling a group of these columns into a novel seems like a strange idea, but reading this collection is like joining a fun book club with a witty, well-read writer. Over the course of the 14 entries Hornby talks about fiction and nonfiction, but he also digresses often about writing and writers, life as a parent, the pleasures of reading, and the art of only reading short novels.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

I expected this to be an oral history of comedians so I was a little surprised at how much space was given over to improv and writing for sitcoms.  Not that it wasn't interesting but I kept wondering when we'd be getting back to the comedians.   A lot of the focus of the book is about women breaking into the largely male arena of stand-up comedy and the perception, by some people, that women aren't funny.  There is some rehashing of well-worn topics like how hard women had it on  Saturday Night Live, and other not so well known, like how supportive Janeane Garofalo was

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